Contact Victor Williamson with your questions about simulator based experiential education programs for your school.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Lindsey Hatch Sem-Retires. Is She the Last Christinite or Will There Be Another? Post from the Past: Magellan Floods. Gym Floods. James and Stephen Porter Retire. Dark Overnight Camp Dreams. Theater Imaginarium.

Lindsey's last mission on the Galileo.
There has never been a more positive, upbeat, and happy person to darken the Space Center's door.
"Mr. Williamson, what's the highlight of your day so far?" was her endearing greeting.

The Christa McAuliffe Space Center's Lindsey Hatch Semi-Retires. Utah State University Calls and She Must Answer

     The Space Center is still the second happiest place on Earth even though one of its finest, and happiest, rays of sunshine has semi-retired.  Lindsey Hatch's last duty as a Space Center employee was to flight director the Galileo's 5 hour mission on September 11.  I stopped by to celebrate the occasion with cupcakes.  "Mr. Williamson, what's the highlight of your day so far?" was her greeting when she saw me poke my head around the Galileo's FD barrier in the cafeteria. 
     "Seeing you of course," was my pre-determined reply.  What else could I say?  
     Lindsey is genetically programmed to be happy. It's in her nature to see the positive in all situations. She can turn any dark day into something bearable if not enjoyable.  She is talented, enthusiastic, energetic and helpful - ready to accept nearly any task.  She is one in a million.  

A Happy Person

     If I didn't know better, I'd say that Lindsey is a closeted Christinite. Defined as a follower of the happiest person ever in Space Center history - Christine Grosland, now Christine Smith.  I'm thinking Christine secretly accepted Lindsey as her padowan to ensure a constant, steady, and reliable counter force to the mischievous Fortuna and the darkness that spews from her persona when the Space Center is in her crosshairs.  
     The Space Centering community wishes Lindsey the very best as she starts her studies at Utah State University in Logan.  Now, we must hope and pray that Christine has another chosen one to dispel the approaching darkness.

Mr. Williamson

Lindsey's Goodbye Email

Mr. Williamson,

     Six years ago, I don't think I ever would have imagined how much I'd fall in love with ships, the people, the memories, and the Discipline of Wonder. Even just a year ago? I don't think I would have ever imagined that I would be leaving so soon. Thank you for creating something so beautifully wonderful. 
     I've grown a lot as I've lost myself in each of the ships. I have had the ride of my life and I have loved every moment. I'll never forget the wonderful moments I've had. Now, I can't wait to see what adventures life has in store. Keep in touch! And thank you for starting this all. Sometimes I don't think that you get many shoutouts, so here is one more: Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Williamson! You truly started something incredible!

Finally, This was the volunteer application Lindsey's sent to me back in the day. 

My name is Lindsey Hatch, and I am VERY interested in becoming a volunteer at the Space Center. As a young girl I always dreamed of coming and working there. I am twelve and just got out of the sixth grade. Throughout the year I worked in our school library. I was given the opportunity from the librarian because she saw me as a responsible girl who she knew could get the job done. When I started volunteering I had NO experience whatsoever with the software. By the end of the year I preformed the inventory of the books and worked on changing large portions of the library’s barcodes. With this experience I have learned how to operate large amounts of the Alexandria Librarian program. Although I may not have as much computer experience as other candidates for a position at the Space Center, I have been in the A.L.L. program two years and have made it into the ACAD and the accelerated math programs for junior high. I am a very quick learner and can grasp onto concepts easier than most. This past year I was also on the student council. I always volunteered to do the tasks that I knew that no one else would want to do, whether it was because how much time it took or how “un-fun” the task seemed. This included taking jobs at student run activities that required taking on two different jobs. Or when we went over to a special needs school to help out. I usually worked with one of three of the students there, a boy who used a walker and could only grunt, a boy who liked to chew on his thumb and then kiss whoever was working with him, or a boy that at a certain trigger would get mad and hit hard and then run out of the class room. I grew to love all of the kids I helped out with. My school class could often get tense. I took it on as a goal to try to make those who would get at each other to get along. How I did this was trying to make the environment a more fun place.  
Often I organized weekly activities for everyone to participate in. the most consistent of these were Granny Sweater Wednesdays and Spirit Clothes Fridays. On these days the class was tons more serene. There were less fights and less drama. We were just like one big, happy, non fighting family. We were unified. Even some of those who, at first rolled their eyes at the idea of some of our class holidays became full-fudged enthusiasts. With the help of those activities I planned some of those kids made true friends I LOVE public speaking and other forms of acting. This year our class put on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I played the role of Nick Bottom, the first girl to ever do it. Last year, our class put on Macbeth my original role was one of the witches. However, the boy who played Macduff announced the night before performance that he wasn’t going to be there. Our teacher gave me the lines that night, and I preformed both roles throughout the next day. At that same time I was in the only school play our school has ever had. I played one of three narrators that posed as civilians throughout the play. I have gone on to finals on school wide story telling festivals through grade school, competing against older kids.  
When I tell stories I try to find really obscure characters that really have to get a little creative with to make the story work, my favorite thing to do while getting a story ready is to spend hours to get the voices just right. Since I tell stories a lot, I can quickly make a voice for characters in books while I am reading aloud in school during reading groups, there are times I’m not satisfied with voice, in that case every time I read as that character, I tweak it until satisfied. I can also sustain the voices; there have been days were I was dared to speak a certain way when just talking to my friends and when I wasn’t talking to a teacher.  I have also done several summer productions with the American Fork Youth Theatre, including Honk! Jr. and Cinderella. In these productions we not only worked on those plays, we also went to acting workshops. During school we also play a game where we are given a role and we try to play it out in the most creative way, which is usually all that I would play when I wasn’t working in the school library. If you are interested in having me volunteering, contact me at (801) ******** e-mail me at *************** or, you can mail me at ******** American Fork, Utah 84003.

48 Hour Campers Arrive for their EdVenture at the CMSEC.
July 2007

Space Center Archives:  Posts from the Past
The Downpour: Power outages, Magellan Floods. The Gym Floods. James and Stephen Porter Retire. Alex DeBirk's First Overnight Camp as Flight Director. 
People Mentioned:  Kyle Herring, Josh Webb, Alex Debirk, Matt Long, James Porter, Stephan Porter, Soren Seibach, Rick Cowdell, Rio Downs.
September 8, 2002

Greeting and Salutations from the Front Lines!

     Are We Enjoying this Rain?
     You won't find a happier person in the intermountain west right now than Mr. Williamson. Many of you that know me well understand my appreciation and adoration for the darker side of life. When I say "darker", I don't mean a life of sin and anti-social behavior. I also do not refer to a lifestyle among those who dress in the neo-gothic style. I'm not one that rushes home at night to quickly shed the clothing of a respectable Utah school teacher and replace it with black boots, black pants, black shirt, silver chains, and a black long 
overcoat. No, no, no........ 

Lots of Smiles at the Start of the 3 Day EdVenture Camp
July 2007

     When I say "dark" I refer to weather. I live for the darker side of weather. My description of a great day is rainy and gloom. While others sit inside wrapped in woolen blankets, I'm on my deck with diet coke in hand bathing in the view of mountains draped by layers of gray cloud. I smile thinking the sun will be hidden all day. My mood brightens the darker and stormier it gets. The thick clouds to people like me are layers of blankets covering the sky. To us, the smell of rain is far better than a flowering rose.  Yes, this weekend was a prayed for gift for those of us that proudly call ourselves "Gloomers" . You "Sunners" will never understand. Come on fellow Gloomers. Let your voices be heard.
     There Magellan staff and volunteers didn't appreciate the rain this weekend on the Friday night overnight camp. The Magellan's control room was badly leaking in the downpour. Central's roof doesn't drain very well. The leaks were caused by holes put into the roof to run the air hose for the Magellan's sliding doors separating the Situation Room to the 
Bridge.  Kyle Herring was called at once. His boat arrived a few hours later and the problem was solved - at least so we thought until the next cloud buster came through. The liquid sunshine dripped in just as the overnight was starting. 

A Phoenix Officer ready for his mission.
July 2007

     The rain was accompanied by a brief power loss. The simulators lost their power momentarily. This caused the Magellan's delicate network to crash. The campers were brought into the building early.  What kind of caring camp would we be if we made our campers and parents wait outside in the pouring rain? 
     This weekend's camp was considered jinxed by many of us.  I told everyone to move to their loading stations and started for the gym. Rick came rushing in saying the gym 
roof was leaking. I picked up my pace and found a steady stream of water pouring in from around on of the swamp coolers in the ceiling. 
"Well," I thought. "We will finally get that Space Center swimming pool I've always dreamt of." 

Starship Voyager Security getting their final instructions on their first mission of the EdVenture Camp
July 2007

     So... there we were, campers needing a place to gather, leaking roof, growing puddles, phasers going off. What else was there to worry about? MY HOUSE! In really heavy downpours sometimes water gets into one of my basement window wells. The water 
builds up and then leaks into the basement through the window. No one was home. I sent Josh Webb off in a hurry to my house to check on the water situation. He called and said the water was building up and was beginning to leak into the house. Good Ole Josh did what any good employee would do sensing his boss was in trouble. He jumped into the window well with bucket in hand and bailed out the water. The leak stopped. The basement was saved. Of course, I also needed him at the Center. I asked him if the pump in the well was working. He said no. He went to check on the circuit breaker and found it had tripped. He reset the breaker and the window well pump came on. The water receded. 
     The overnight mission went ahead without further problems. I want to thank Josh for the extra effort. I also want to thank Kyle Herring for not only working on the school's roof but also for mopping the water up off the gym floor at the beginning of the camp.
     After all of that, I still enjoy this weather and rain.

The Magellan Crew. First Rotation Mission
July 2007

     We had a good group of kids on the overnight mission. The boys went to bed without a problem. The staff was great. Mercy Strike was successful. No complaints from any campers about any of the simulators or stories. We were a bit overcrowded. Instead of 42 campers the 4H sent 45. We also had a few extra staff on hand. I was woken up once by Clint, one of our Pioneer helpers. He was sleep talking. I asked him what he was dreaming after he woke up on Saturday Morning. "I had a dream about owning and driving an Ice Cream Truck and crashing it into everybody," he said.  

       You can get some pretty funky dreams at the Space Center. Some of my weirdest 
have been there. I think it has to do with our method of operation. We are totally involved in running a heavily dramatic interactive experience up to 11:00 P.M. and by midnight we are in bed. There isn't a lot of rest between the drama and bed time so our brains use sleep as a way of decompressing from the missions and storing the information in neat little memory pockets. Does anyone else have weird dreams on the Friday night of an overnighter? 

The Galileo's spiked "kool-aid" for their summer mission
July 2007

     We are getting ready for a very busy Honor's Program next Saturday afternoon. Several Honors will be given. Patches will be awarded along with Ranger Bars, pillow cases, and blankets. We will retire James Porter as he heads north to college. We will bid Bon Voyage  to Stephen Porter who will be leaving on a mission. By the way, this week's overnighter will be Stephen's last before leaving. Everyone please plan on coming Saturday to say goodbye to the Porters. They both were dedicated Space Center volunteers , employees, 
and friends. 
     Some news from the Ships. The Magellan has a new Red Alert light track and the Galileo has new speakers and subwoofer. The sound is pretty good for a little ship. The Galileo's older speakers are being installed in the Situation Room (Discovery Room) to jazz up the sound system from the video projector. 
     The Galileo overnight mission was directed by Alex DeBirk (with Kyle on hand to assist and supervise). Congratulations Alex on your first overnight mission as a Flight Director. 
     The school year program is almost ready. Jennifer Remy is putting the finishing touches on the curriculum. Matt Long is getting the stacks ready. Soren Seibach and Stephen Porter are doing the science stack. I'm ready to start booking kids for overnighters and classes. The school year flyer should reach the schools this week. 

It's the traditional snack before bed time for our 42 overnight campers.
11:10 P.M.
July 2007

     I'm excited to announce that Rio Downs will be joining us on Monday's, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the Space Center for the morning field trip. 
     This week I start training the new crop of 5th and 6th grade junior staff from Central. I'll have the interns help with that. 
     I think that is all from the trenches. Be good troops and remember out 

As always all the best to you and yours.

Mr. Williamson

Imaginarium Theater
The Best Gifs from Around the World Edited for a Gentler Audience

Sunday, August 19, 2018

My Classroom Tardis Materialized Between My Room and the Chinese Classroom. What They Say About My Driving Skills is Correct. Where are They Now: Matt Long. See His New Warehouse, Impressive. Space News. Theater Imaginarium.

     The Tardis didn't materialize correctly when I returned to my classroom after a sprint around the solar system one last time before the start of this new school year.  I don't know what went wrong. My coordinates were correct, as far as I could tell. Room 204, Renaissance Academy, Lehi, Utah, United States, Earth.  I'm lucky I wasn't standing near the opening.
      After checking my owners manual and discovering my Tardis warranty expired three years ago, I decided to say goodbye to my classroom police box save for the front door and the roof call light.  Repairs on a Tardis run more than my finances can manage.  The last time I checked, a Police Box Tardis, complete with an Astron Energy PU and an ACME Time Vortox Modulator would run 1.5 galactic credits.  You see my point?
     The upside, look at the extra room I'll have.  The sixth grade at Renaissance Academy adopted a middle school model and schedule this upcoming year. I'll have 90 plus students throughout the day in six periods so the extra room will be welcome.  Mrs. Moss, my outstanding para-educator, will be thrilled.  She sat next to the full scale Tardis for five years with little room to breath. Now she can luxuriate her time away with plenty of leg room.
     The good news, there are three other cardboard Tardis panels from the original Tardis stored in my room wanting a new home. You can do what I did in my classroom - put the panel up against the wall with the Police Box sign above. Contact me if you're a Dr. Who fan with an interest in adopting a panel.     
 Where Are they Now:  Matthew Long Opens a New Location for Underfunded Films.

Matt's new office at Underfunded Films
      I stopped by Matt Long's new office and warehouse in American Fork on Friday.  He and his wife Melanie were hosting an open house for his company's new location.  Impressed doesn't sum up what I saw. I knew Matt was a film lover having worked with him at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center over many many years.  He made a few excellent space themed shorts, including a Star Wars tribute film we played for our summer campers on swimming night.  I also knew Matt was the founder of the Underfunded Film Festival which recently merged with FilmQuest and the Utah Film Awards.  The Festival's mantra has been to promote both amateur and professional, independent films to prove that you don't need to have a Hollywood budget to make a great film.  I also knew Matt had a large inventory of film equipment he'd rent out to film productions.  He ran the business out of his garage in American Fork.
     What I didn't know was just how big his garage business had become.  I found out on Friday. 

Matt moving equipment for the open house

     Welcome to the new home of Underfunded Films (UFP) in American Fork just down the street from Carl's Jr. right off the freeway.  

     Now you see what I mean when I say he has one of the largest collections of rentable film equipment in Utah.  If you're making a film and need equipment, UFP is the place to go.

     Just this cart you see Matt sitting on would run you $100,000 to purchase.  That's why film makers rent the large equipment they need.  

Matt working on his new Magellan controls in the Magellan control room. Jon is impressed.
     This is how many of you remember Matt.  Matt was our programming master at the Space Center for several years.  He programmed the current controls still used on the Magellan and Voyager simulators.  As a younger high school student, Matt programmed in Hypercard and worked on the original Voyager's controls among others.  
     Space Centering runs in Matt's blood. He build his own starship in his basement as a youngster. 

Matt (second from the right) as a young Blue Shirt outside the Odyssey.

     Today Matt and Melanie are the parents of four delightful children.  Melanie works as a nurse at Utah Valley Hospital and Matt got to quit his programming job to run UFP full time.  Melanie is overjoyed to have her garage back. 

      Matt made sure I didn't leave empty handed.  Free t-shirts for all!

      And one final comment.  I knew Matt was cool, but not this cool.  Look at this piece of original art work hanging behind his desk.  It's a young Dr. Who.  A stop to enjoy this little sprite of a picture is well worth a visit to UFP in American Fork even if you're not renting any equipment.  
     By the way, without even resorting to arm twisting, Matt and Melanie happily consented to host the next Sandwich Club in the Fall.  More news to follow.  Keep reading The Troubadour. 

Space News
By Mark Daymont

 Russian Cosmonauts go for a Walk

Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev releases a tiny nano-satellite into space. NASA TV.

     On Wednesday August 15, Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Oleg Artemeyev opened the hatch on the Pirs module just after midnight and stayed out for over seven hours. They completed the tasks of installing the German-made Icarus experiment outside the Pirs module, and also hand-launched four nano-satellites that had been built by Russian science students. 
     The Icarus experiment will track the migrations and movements of animals that have been tagged with tiny transmitters. Scientists will study how animal populations have modified their migrations and movements while encountering changes in their environments.

 Artemyev, left, and Prokopyev in a practice for the upcoming spacewalk. Credit: Roscosmos.

   This was Artemyev's third spacewalk, and the first EVA for Prokopyev. The next ISS spacewalk will be in September.  

Imaginarium Theater
The Best Gifs of the Week Edited for a Gentler Audience

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Christa McAuliffe Space Center Holds its Summer Honors Night. See Who Made the Grade and Which Ship Took the Coveted Top Ship Award. The Imaginarium.

     Last Thursday the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center held another Honor's Night to recognize the outstanding work performed by the Center's staff and volunteers.  The Troubadour was there to cover the star studded event.  

     Nathan Young Greeted me outside the Discovery Room sporting his old lanyard and volunteering card from the Center's Voyager Era (1990-2013).  Many of you kind readers are former staff and volunteers. You too have your lanyard bedazzled with your simulator pins, years of service pins, and your volunteering card.  My director's lanyard is home, safe and secure but sadly missing an Odyssey simulator pin.  Sadly, there are none to be hand.  Nathan has an Odyssey pin.  I need an Odyssey pin. Knowing he would never part with his Odyssey pin,  I ran several scenarios through my mind thinking of a way to separate his pin from his lanyard without his knowledge.  
     "Nathan, your pins need a good polish. I can do that for you. Why don't I take your lanyard home, polish those pins up a treat, and bring it back."  He looked confused. "It's the least I could do for someone who's given so much to the Space Center."  
     In the end, we parted company.  One of us no happier than when he arrived and one very much frustrated.  

     Some things never change.  Take a close look at the picture above.  What do you see?  If you noticed that the older senior staff, along with a few select senior volunteers, are gathered at the back of the room and the younger newer volunteers sit towards the front of the room, then you'd be correct.  The younglings turn around from time to time - watching and listening to the elders of the tribe.  Each face shows a longing for the day when an owl delivers their invitation to cross the River Styx into the Elysian Fields.   

         Honor's Night started at 7:00 P.M. sharp.  The room was full and alive with chatter, laughter, and the telling of tales both true and exaggerated.  

     Space Center Director James Porter was the Master of Ceremonies.  He took one final sip from his perch high on the instructional platform before calling the babble to attention. 


     Item number one:  Come to work and volunteer in uniform. No exceptions.  Volunteer Livy was his model for the right and wrong way to dress.

     Item number 2:  The Grumpy Pants.  Lindsey modeled the newest accessory to the Space Center's wardrobe department - the Grumpy Pants.  Apparently the stress of summer missions and camps stacked one upon the other was too much for some, resulting in paper thin patience ,which in turn led to increased grumpiness between the the staff and volunteers.  Mr. Porter's solution - the Grumpy pants.  
     The new rule at the Space Center. If you're exhibiting signs of grumpiness, you'll be invited to proceed to Mr. Porter's office to put on the grumpy pants.  They will be worn for 30 minutes minimum or until all signs of grumpiness disappear.   

     Item Three:  Welcome to Dug, the Space Center's new director of curriculum. Dug was a junior high science teacher in the Alpine District before retiring.  James Porter was one of his students back in the day.  Dug has been brought out of retirement to take this position.  He will be an outstanding addition to the CMSC staff and will contribute to the Center's mission to maintaining the honor of being the best field trip in the state of Utah.  

     Tabitha Long was introduced as the Space Center's new Outreach Director.  Tabitha has been a part of the Space Center family for several years.  Her primary duty is to oversee the Center's Departments and all other duties as assigned.  Yes, she will fly the odd Odyssey mission from time to time as well.   

     Lindsey (center) will be stepping down as head of the Acting Department.  Taking her place are Katie and Nathan.  Yes, she was doing the work of two people.  What an amazing person!  Katie and Nathan received their purple Acting Department shirts.

     JJ received his Galileo Pass and pin from Galileo Set Director Erin.

     Jon was happy to award Tyler his Phoenix pass and pin.  YES!  The Space Center has brought back staff and volunteer lanyards - the perfect place to put your honors.

     Mr. Porter gave out the Apprentice Starfighter patches for the 100 hour volunteers.

     Tyler and Zoe received their 500 volunteer hours Hitchhiker patch.

     Alexis and JJ received the 1000 volunteer hour Defender of the Universe patch.

     Those few, brave, dedicated souls who volunteer for 2000 hours are inducted into the Society of Time Lords.  I'm a member. Jon Parker is a member, and now Mason Perry is a member.  The Time Lord presentation started with a new video from the James Porter production studio. The video showed current Time Lords calling all other Time Lords from across the universe to attendance to welcome the new Time Lord.  
     Mason was pleased and chose to celebrate the occasion by wearing all his Time Lord time keeping devices which have been highlighted on The Troubadour over the past few years.  
     Of course those of us in the 'know' know Mason is a true Time Lord.  His true identity was exposed to the world in a few Troubadour posts.  He parks his Tardis in the Voyager's crew quarters when making visits to Earth.  If you ask nicely, he may give you a ride to visit your favorite time period in Earth's history.  He gave me my wish last year.  We did a grand European Middle Ages tour to study the effects of the Bubonic Plague on a widespread population in person.  

     And just when you thought Mason was honored enough, out came a blue supervisor shirt.  Mason is now the Space Center's newest Blue Shirt.  He couldn't be happier.  It has been a long time coming!

     Scott and Lissa both received their Journeyman 5 Years of Service patch.  Lissa was absent so word is that Scott took both patches to give himself a full 10 years of service!

     Scott received a pillowcase - bringing back another tradition from the Space Center's Voyager Era.
     Lindsey will be leaving the Center to attend USU in Logan and was awarded a blanket to keep her warm on those long northern Utah winter nights.

     JJ was given the much desired Lord of the Summer Votes trophy.  He got the most up votes from this summer's campers for his work, attitude, and friendliness.   

     Sam got the much smaller trophy.  This is the "He Who Would Have Had An Excellent Chance of Becoming Lord of the Votes if Had Managed to Attend a Few More Camps" trophy.  Sam had a busy summer in the real world and was missed by his co-workers at the Space Center.

     Wow, this trophy speaks for itself.  Nathan Young winning the Best Flight Director trophy for the 2018 summer camp season.  Congratulations Nathan!

     The Best Summer Story trophy went to the Odyssey's "Unto Dust" mission.  

     Finally, the grandest of all trophies.  The Top Simulator of the Summer based on camper surveys this summer went to the Odyssey.  Congratulations to the Odyssey flight directors:  Nathan. Tabitha, and Lindsey.

The Imaginarium